Maize has become an emerging crop in Bangladesh with the highest productivity, said the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) yesterday.
The crop is now grown on 4.47 lakh hectares of land with productivity of 8.7 tonnes per hectare, said Thakur P Tiwari, CIMMYT representative in Bangladesh.
He was addressing a stakeholders' meeting jointly organised by the Bangladesh Wheat and Maize Research Institute (BWMRI) and CIMMYT at InterContinental Dhaka.
Tiwari said Bangladesh's annual demand for maize was 40 lakh tonnes and three-fourths of the requirement were locally produced. Maize is now gaining popularity as human food, he said.
Being a laggard two decades ago, maize has become the second biggest cereal crop after rice, sending wheat to the third position, owing to increased interest of growers to cultivate the crop for demand from the feed industry.
Agriculture Minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque said demand for maize was growing.
“Maize has tremendous prospects in Bangladesh. The market is very big,” he said, adding that demand for wheat was also increasing, particularly from the biscuit industry.
He said the country was now self sufficient in rice and potato production while cultivation of other crops, such as vegetables, has also increased.
Yet, population growth, high density and shrinking land and water are persistent challenges for agriculture, he added.
CIMMYT Director General Martin Kropff, who is on a four-day visit to Bangladesh, said the organisation has had fruitful collaborations with numerous Bangladeshi stakeholders and partners for over 50 years.
“Fully aligned with the national agenda, the CIMMYT works with partners to tackle existing diseases such as wheat blast and looming threats such as fall armyworm,” he said.
“We also merge the best science and action to encourage the adoption of mechanisation services, technologies and crop management practices,” he added.